Independent shops, cafes and restaurants could benefit

Cathy Frost, owner of Love One, is speaking up for the town.

Cathy Frost, owner of Love One, is speaking up for the town. - Credit: Su Anderson

Hundreds of small businesses in Ipswich are set to benefit from a reduced rates bill this year, in a boost for the hard-pressed town centre and neighbourhood shopping too.

BBC's The One Show is filming at Ipswich Cornhill tomorrow Picture: DAVID VINCENT

BBC's The One Show is filming at Ipswich Cornhill tomorrow Picture: DAVID VINCENT - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Borough Council has agreed to introduce discretionary retail rate relief across a wide range of small businesses in the town, including shops and restaurants, cafes and hairdressers, pubs and bars and for the next two years.

The executive committee has approved the Government-backed scheme which offers one-third off rates bills, in order to support local businesses.

Councillor Sophie Meudec, portfolio holder for business at the borough council said: “This is good news.

“The Government is allowing us to do this for the next two years.

““We have identified there are about 343 properties that are under the rateable value to benefit from this. It is good news because they will get one third off their rates bill.

“Nearly half of them are in the town centre. There is a very good range of small and independent businesses and this will benefit those businesses, such as cafes and restaurants and smaller shops.

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“In addition there are 94 vacant properties which might benefit from this as well, for the two years.

“Hopefully it will encourage people who want to taken them on, or start new businesses.”

The rate discount offer was revealed in the Chancellor’s October 2018 budget and individual councils have to agree to take advantage of it for their areas.

Shopkeeper Cathy Frost, from the Saints traders association, said: “This is very much a step on the right direction.

“Especially at a time when money is tight for a lot of businesses, anything that can help has got to be a good thing.

“I have benefitted from the previous rate relief scheme.”

The businesses that are set to benefit will find out when their 2019/20 rates bill arrives.

The council has discretion over which businesses quality under the retail relief scheme, and a range of public services are also included from travel agents to hair and beauty salons to car sales and launderettes.

Businesses involved must be based in premises which have a rateable value of up to £51,000.

Terry Hunt, chairman of Ipswich Vision, said it was good news for the town.

“At times when our town centres are facing challenging times anything that can make life easier for our small businesses is to be welcomed.”

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